New Directions is a three-year postgraduate training program for clinicians, academicians, and writers who want to develop a richer understanding of modern psychoanalytic perspectives and apply it to their own work. In seasonal weekend conferences and optional summer and winter retreats, our community of students, alumni, teachers, and guest faculty come together to explore selected aspects of the psychoanalytic domain. The range of conference topics has been broad: memory, gender, trauma, infancy, evil, dreams, the body, creativity, mourning, projective identification, writer’s block, revenge and forgiveness, the writer’s voice, and the psychology of the therapist, have been the subjects, among others, of our weekends.
A special focus of the program is writing. While some of our students are extensively published and others are inexperienced, they are all invested in developing their authorial skills. While some are pursuing professional writing, several are interested in the crafting of essay, memoir, fiction, and poetry. Exposing our work to others is vulnerable business, and getting the wise support of mature colleagues is crucial in enabling us to take that risk.
We clarify and sharpen our thinking by writing. A variety of program components support this effort. We use groups that review brief assignments written for each conference, craft-oriented writing workshops, forums for critical review of published writing, and collaborations that facilitate ongoing writing projects. We have recruited a cadre of English teachers from area universities who are paired with our psychoanalyst faculty as writing group leaders.
Many of our graduates continue to participate in the program because they find New Directions a supportive professional community in which they can continue to develop – as thinkers, as writers, and as professionals. Some have found that they have made substantial progress as writers particularly during their alumni years. Our students range in age from their thirties to their eighties, they come with a variety of perspectives, and, given the program’s design, they are able to come from all over the continent and even from overseas.